Sandia Pueblo, NM - The Fourth Annual Native American Music Awards were held outdoors
this year with the magnificent Sandia Mountains as the backdrop.
Sandia Pueblo is located at the western foot of the Sandia Mountains just south of Albuquerque. Governor Stuart
Paisano welcomed the crowd to the Pueblos beautiful new casino and 3,000-seat amphitheater.
After the opening blessing by Butch Artichoker (Oglala Sioux), a beautiful piece using Universal American Indian
Sign language to the prayer, the Great Mystery, was performed by Bonnie Jo Hunt, an operatic concert artist.
Radmilla Cody (Dine) with her grandmother standing beside her sang the National Anthem. Her beautiful and powerful
voice made the song unforgettably moving, sung in a language of the First Peoples of this country.
Andrew Vasquez (Kiowa-Apache) Best Male Artist, 2000, Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida) her song Peacemaker's Journey
received the award for Best Producer, and Walela, Group of the Year Award sang a beautiful rendition of Amazing
Grace. (Walela is made up of Rita Coolidge who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, her sister Priscilla Coolidge,
and Priscilla's daughter Laura Satterfield, all Cherokee,
Charming and gregarious, actor Rodney Grant (Omaha Tribe) was the Master of Ceremonies.
Before each winner was announced, video clips of all the nominees were shown on large screens located on both sides
of the stage. The first part of the list of winners were announced, but asked to stay seated as the audience applauded
them. Most likely, this occurred to keep the program within a reasonable time period. A few of the winners were;
Indigenous (Nakota Nation) for Best Blues, R. Carlos Nakai, (Dine) for Flutist of the Year, Star Nayea for Best
Independent Recording, Annie Humphrey (Ojibwe) for Best Folk Recording, Arigon Starr (Kickapoo) for Song Single
of the Year, and Robert Mirabal (Taos Pueblo) was the big winner with awards for Songwriter of the Year, Artist
of the Year, and Record of the Year. Robert's mom accepted his awards.
50 years ago, a producer with Canyon Records first heard the music of Native artist, Natay (Dine & Ute). He
enjoyed Natay so much, he vowed to record more Native American artists, today Canyon Records continues to record
many Native artists. Natay, who has over 40 albums, Gold Records, Grammy Award nominations and many Native American
Music Awards, received the Lifetime Achievement award.
R. Carlos Nakai (Dine) and his new group the Wilde Boys, which includes Will Clipman, William Eaton and Tibetan
flutist Nawang Khechog, performed a wonderful piece called Dwelling In the Garden.
The group Brule from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, with father and daughter team Paul and Nicole
LaRoche is one of the top contemporary Native American recording acts having sold over 1 million records worldwide.
Their music is very moving. On the flute, Nicole gave a stellar performance from her heart.
Amazing 8-year old flutist, Evren Ozan, received NAMA's Rising Star Award. The audience was quite impressed with
his beautiful flute music.
Receiving the Jim Thorpe Sports Award this year was Billy Mills, (Lakota Sioux from the Pine Ridge Reservation)
the great Olympic runner who at 26 amazed the world in 1964 as he burst forth near the end of the 10,000-meter
race like a flash to receive a Gold Medal.
Keith Secola with the Wild Band of Indians, last years winner for Best Independent Recording, and this years winner
for Best Instrumental Recording was joined on stage by John Densmore, the former Doors drummer for an excellent
rockin' blues performance.
The group Yarina, which means "remembrance" in their native Quichua language of the Incas, is made up
of four brothers. Two of their sisters joined them, dancing to their upbeat music. Their music is a wonderfully
diverse combination of jazz, blues, Latin and Western Classical.
Winner of Best World Music Recording, Casper (Hopi) and the 602 Band had people moving in their seats as the group
performed their warm positive Reggae music influenced by Caspers traditional Hopi culture.
Crystal Gayle, (part Cherokee) country singer with three dozen hit records and many awards, was inducted into the
NAMA Hall of Fame. The audience wanted another song, but there wasn't time and it was getting really cold.
As is typical in the high desert this time of the year, Albuquerque at 5,000', has beautiful and very warm days,
but as the sun goes down, so does the temperature. Sitting and watching the Awards, it got very cold. Some people
had been wise enough to bring their winter coats and blankets, but most of those in the audience were quite cold
but didn't want to miss a minute of the Awards.
Janice-Marie, who was joined on stage by Robert Tree Cody, winner of Male Artist of the Year award, was the last
performance. Janice-Marie's incredibly hot performance had the crowd dancing and forgetting they were cold. She
was fabulous, a dichotomy as she walked out on stage in an elegant black silver dress and then "got down"
playing the bass with passion as she belted out Boogie, Oogie Oogie, her Grammy award winning multi-platinum smash.
Later, Janice-Marie said the only way she was able to play the guitar was to "warm my fingers by putting them
in a hot cup of coffee."
After the Award show, people were happy to go indoors to the VIP party held in a large room in the casino. Unable
to shoot during the show, this is where I was finally able to take photos and interview quite a few of the artists,
which you will read about in future editions.
For a comprehensive list of winners, look at the www.nammys.com web site. For more photos of the show, click Photos.
The entire program was broadcast live on radio stations throughout the country and Koahnic Broadcast Corporation
ran it live on the Internet. Parts of the program will be used in an international television special called, Concert
Sponsors for the evening were, the Pueblo of Sandia, the Navajo Arts & Humanities Council, the Muckleshoot
Tribe, Subway, the Oneida Indian Nation, the Cow Creek Upqua Tribe, HBO, Bessoms Gardens and the Institute of American
Indian Arts, who helped create the set.